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Introducing Toulouse

Elegantly situated at the confluence of the Canal du Midi and the River Garonne, the vibrant southern city of Toulouse is often known as La Ville Rose, a reference to the distinctive hot-pink stone used to build many of its buildings. Busy, buzzy and bustling with students, this riverside dame has a 2000-year history, but it’s a city with its feet very much in the future: it’s been a hub for the aerospace industry since the 1930s, and is leading France’s drive towards cleaner, greener energies. It’s also a city that lives or dies by the fortunes of its rugby team, Stade Toulousain (known simply as ‘les rouges et noirs’, the reds and blacks), who have won the European Cup a record four times, most recently in 2010.

With a thriving cafe and cultural scene, a wealth of hôtels particuliers (private mansions) and an enormously atmospheric old quarter, France’s fourth-largest city simply mustn’t be missed.